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Hanoi the city of pho, cyclo, smoky smile, and more..

THAILAND | Tuesday, 23 March 2010 | Views [446]

This is my first time writing here through the blog provided by Worldnomads. But I have known this website for years. My first story, started quite long time enough to make me stuck in awhile to remind the story. To start, I would like to give you one word.. "Remarkable", it is for this trip. Hanoi, the city of sound chaos but peaceful enough in each little street. Many things amazed me once I arrived there. First of all, the excitement was there once I arrived the airport. Why? I just realized that my passport was another 2 months to be due to renewal. Ah ha. Imagine how excited and worried I was at that moment. Well, "think positive" I just talked to myself (Of course I could do nothing on the plane) Finally on arrival, the first thing while I was walking to those rows waiting to go through the passport checking process, was murmurring with myself and targeting which row I would be in. And I got an idea. Kind of psychological. "A man" I thought. "I should choose to close this situation with a male staff." It would be easier in negotiation. Umm, you may think this was non sense. But you know, it worked! He didn't ask anything and let me pass through. Haaaa sooo relieved I felt.

"Good morning Vietnam!!" I shouted! (alright, it was in my mind :)) Finally Hanoi was out there. I walked out the airport with confidence. The bus with a smiling man from the hostel was waiting for us, who was about to introduce us and other tourists to the "unique way of Vietnamese driving"! It seemed like the road meant nothing and it wasn't there! It seemed to me that the bus was shaking and crawling like a snake or simply and intentionally slipping out of its lane to another lane, and slipping back to its normal lane again when there was a vehicle coming in the opposite direction. Nothing I could do but looked at my friends' face and said "oh my Lord Buddha" "Am I gonna be alright in Hanoi?"

It was very noticeable that most of Vietnamese houses are very identical and unique in the style. I do not know if it is because of the high price of land or something, but the houses in Hanoi city look like the place that are designed to serve 2 purposes- living and commercial. And it is interesting to see that each house is very close to the same size. I guess that houses in Hanoi (and probably in Vietnam) are built in the same style- 2- storey building with small body. I just imagined how people live in those narrow blocks. 

In around half an hour, we were in the middle of Hanoi city. Wow! It was such as lively cty. We were not sure what street we were on, but what we knew was that the bus stopped in front of a company (I thout it was a tour company) and the person who was supposed to be with us until we arrived the hostel, just got off the bus and let the driver who couldn't speak English be with us until we reached our accommodation. I couldn't remember what the name of the street was until I check the name in the photo taken at home (now I'm at the office while writing this blog!). Along the busy street where all kinds of drivings came to us and passed by, we felt pretty excited because of the buildings along the street. I could smell the strong smell of French colonial- styled architecture. In my opinion, yellow is the very outstanding colour and plays a distinctive role in those buildings. Since it was in the morning, life just began and people just lived their way, driving, riding, cycling and walking to work. The remarkable number of people cycling on the streets reminded me of my trip in Kunming. Both sides looked very lively with people chatting, smoking, drinking coffee and selling. 

And while my friends and I were enjoying the scene of bustling Hanoi, the hostel was there on the right hand side of us. I tried to put the scene of the street where the hostel was situated in my memory so we could (perhaps) avoid getting lost when we went out. Well well well... every corner seemed to look exactly the same. Every street I had been passing seemed to have the same feeling, and of course, Vietnamese typical noodle "Pho" Yeh, we knew that time that our main course would be that delicious-looking noodle!.

The "place to make my life in Hanoi" was a kind of hostel, with only around over 100 and something in Thai Baht. Very chea, yes. We didn't want to spent too much money on accommodation since we knew that there were many other things waiting for us to spend for! And what we thought was true! I will tell youo later about that. We had booked 2 rooms for 4 persons. I stayed with my close friend. Another 2 were couples from USA (A ha, we had international friends with us! No, one is my Thai friend and another is her husband :) The room was ok in my opinion, value for money. We got 2 beds, toilet and furniture necessary, and hot water.. not electric. Um classic ha. The hostel also serves breakfast, which is good. This was something that impressed me as well. It's hard to see this kind of hot water jar used in hotels in Thailand. But probably this is a hostel, the name tells us that there are some characteristics with it.  

One of the surprising happenings during my trip was that there was a Vietnamese man who, how could I say, begged for my love (ho ho ho). I guessed that he was just kidding. First of all we met on the table at the breakfast time on the second day. I knew that this man was a local Vietnamese man who worked there (not sure of he works in that hostel, but I saw him almost everyday). I knew from my friend that he liked me. But no really "active conversation" was among us. I remembered that almost the last day in Hanoi, he asked for my passport (he wanted to keep it so I could not go back home! Ha!) Actually I have a picture or two of me taking with him. One fact about Vietnamese men is that they have not very white teeth. Good that they have white face, actually they are white which make them look good. The reason why they have kind of black teeth is that they drink coffee and tea, and smoke on the daily basis. These all become their physical characteristics.

Small adventure took place on the second day when we managed to take a "recommended day trip" to the Perfume Pagoda. We baught a day trip at the hostel and later we found ourselves on a boat. The boat trip left a pier where I saw many locals living their life with the flow of tourists. Beside the river there were many boats waiting for tourists. I knew now that tourism business made a lot of monney here. Yet there still is the pastoral scene beside. The Perfume Pagoda is locally called Chua Huong, located in Huong son (which means "Perfume mountain"). The place is 70 km southwest of Hanoi. There, there are more than one temple, a cluster of temples and shrines there actually. Perfume Pagoda has a long history in Vietnamese literature. Its name has the meaning that reflects as theme in many songs, poetry, and it has been inspiring artists to create many literary works including paintings. The backdrop of the temple became a motif in many Vietnamese paintings reflecting the uniqueness of the picturesque mountains, river and forest where the temple has been nestled. This is why Northern Vietnam has been recognized as the place where beauty, arts and philosophy of the oriental unite. This boat trip gave me 3 feelings: first was that the scene along the river and in front of me was terriffic! So natural; second was about the weather.. it was so hot (fortunately I brought my hat.); and third was the destination, when we arrived, was a little bit touristic. Well it is the nice place with cave, cliff and good nature, but too many tourists....However, overall was an impressive trip. At least, along the boat trip. As someone says "Destination doesn't matter, the trip does" I really agree with this. A trip makes a journey....

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